The New Today


Why vote in Grenada’s elections: who benefits? – Part III

The people of Grenada are faced with an electoral system which is dominated by two parties of similar political philosophies and programs, and those parties seem to have the same developmental thrust and approaches which are steered by and dependent on a host of foreign influences.

Within this scenario, the common man is used to ascend and legitimise, by the “right to vote” in political elections, a party into the realm of Government which functions mainly to the dictates and benefits of affluent business bodies as well as those foreign influences.

The dilemma and disadvantages for the electorate become compounded by the misguided culture of elevating the leader of the party and his/her ‘limited agendas’ and ‘fuzzy contacts’, with the emphasis for securing that party at the elections.

This outrageous and dangerous practice is contrary to the ‘spirit and intent for proper representation’ of the people as framed in Grenada’s 1974 Constitution (sections 29-32 & 58-60); as well as, it could cause embarrassment to the leader and disturb the fortune of the party, if he/she is unsuccessful at the polls (subsection 58.2).

The misguided culture perpetrated by certain partisan characters idolising the leader of a party, sets and facilitates the trend of submerging the role and commitment of an elected member of Parliament to the constituency and of suffering the needs and services in the various constituencies at the behest and pleasure of that leader if appointed Prime Minister, with his/her urging that governing is about the national good and not on the individual.

The real issue to be acknowledged though is that of defining ‘governance representation’ and its parameters, to the extent of being appropriate to accommodate reasonably every constituent and stakeholder in the nation. Also is the challenge for the constituents and stakeholders to be able to hold the party in the Government, or rather to hold the Constituency Representatives accountable for that settled mode of representation.

Whilst there is no constitutional recourse to hold straightforwardly an elected member personally accountable for maladministration and poor representation, the people are duped by the nonbinding legally and morally of parties’ manifestos.

Should the Grenadian people be proud that forty-eight years of Sovereign Independence, during which time the New National Party (NNP) under Prime Minister Keith Mitchell has secured most of the elections, have delivered the quality of governance representation in Grenada’s institutional negotiations, arrangements and obligations especially with external relations?

Could the representation made on behalf of the people, regarding the state of the national economy and the public debt be forgiven? Is careful and caring representation employed, for the custody of the people’s patrimony and resources? Is it fair and accurate to compare the representation for public amenities and natural justice to that as reflected by the degrading physical infrastructure and questionable capital projects?

Is the proof of the representation expected for meaningful responses to the level of poor and vulnerable people generated in the society, been realised by the provisions of social safety nets and charitable handouts? Are the self-esteem and self-actualisation, as well as the prosperity and security of the youths and the unemployed, met by the open-ended apprenticeship programs such as the IMANI and by unestablished contract jobs?

Could and would the main opposition party, the National Democratic Congress (NDC) of newly installed leader Dickon Mitchell, redeem and reconcile the ‘hurting sensitive’ issue of representation to the benefit of the Grenadian people if obtained State power, by providing a more favourable and better mode; what are the signs?

The NDC has been trading on the brand of “transformation” for its party, for the local political culture and for national governance; and the party’s novice-in-politics leader has reminded and rightfully to do so, ascribed prime-ministership as “servant-leader” which lends itself to representation.

However, considering Dickon Mitchell as an extensively known and experienced Corporate Attorney, how must the average citizen who has time and time again been ‘bruised and battered’ by politicians accept and trust the kinds of rhetoric which border on semantics and the applications thereof?

It should be clear that the representation with a genuine servant—leader’s attitude can begin with advocacy outside of Government; thus the many issues identified as shortcomings, irregularities and wickedness of the party in Government needs to be addressed with solid alternatives.

Critical on proper governance representation is the observance of the constitutional provisions for the Protection of Fundamental Rights and Freedoms and for public officials/servant leaders to “faithfully execute … without fear or favour, affection or ill-will and that in the execution of the functions … honour, uphold and preserve the Constitution of Grenada”.

Typically, the management of the COVID-19 epidemic and the new realities which emerge, brings to the fore the ‘value and defence’ of representation for the people and the demonstration of ‘discretion, resolve, empathy and solidarity’ by every citizen.

Whilst criticising the authorities and suggesting that there has not been sufficient consultation with all stakeholders so that a national approach as to how the virus could be managed and how the disruptions to lives and livelihoods can be minimised, a robust undertaking should have been initiated for this matter by NDC, as well as on the many other policy matters, with the participation of the wide citizenry; referring to the interesting interview on the Grenada Broadcasting Network’s “To the Point” current affairs program of 18 January 2022 with Dickon Mitchell and his Assistant General Secretary Ron Redhead.

It should not be missed that governance can be treated as being dynamic and evolving, as well as executed from different dimensions and angles. Moreover, politicians and lawyers in particular take confidence to anchor doings, even if with bias and expediency, on international experiences, precedents and trends.

Thus for example, the utterances, decisions and positions of countries such as French, where its president Emmanuel Macron vowed to frustrate the lives of all those who are not inclined to be vaccinated to combat the coronavirus epidemic, as he asserts “when you are a citizen you must agree to do your civic duty”, would be caused to bear on Grenada’s circumstances.

Macron is not isolated on this cause, as the application of democracy, governance representation and human rights is interpreted in terms of the interest of the majority who have taken the jab overriding the minority who is resisting to do so. In fact, Prime Minister Mitchell testifies that he cannot give incentives to those who are losing jobs due to conscious decisions not to be vaccinated.

And of course the stance and revelation of Attorney Mitchell in representing St. George’s University against its protesting workers who were threatened with dismissal for not complying with the terms on vaccination for the virus, is also very significant.

Political observers and pundits conclude that the “silly season” has already begun in Grenada, as relates to campaigning and wooing for general elections which are constitutional due within the next fifteen months.

The thirst of a party to gain power or to retain power propels this silly season which features heightened expressions of a misguided political culture; and although the party tends to prosper from this culture, definitely it does not make certain to benefit the intellect, welfare, empowerment and representation of the people.

The trivial, deceptive and annoying pronouncements, as well as the cruel, evil and underworld engagements surrounding electioneering take a heavy toll on the nation even long after the silly season has ended; this indeed will be impacting the social life in the society and the kind of representation by the Government.

Empirical evidence over the past elections’ cycles point to the surge of political rage, polarisation and tribalism which find its way in the execution of the businesses of governance with arrogance, victimisation and ostracism when the winning party tastes ‘Absolute Power’.

The activism, enthusiasm and optimism in exercising the right to vote by choosing a political candidate, or rather a political party to run the affairs of the nation can be shamed, eroded or even dashed after the general elections. Grievous disappointments often come to some fractions of both of the principal groups of voters.

There would be the citizens who vote and bet for a deserving political change in the Government but which was not realised, especially when the conduct and results of the polls fail the reasonable standards and objective analyses for endorsing “free and fair elections”; recall the previously internet-circulated article, “How Practical And Valuable Are Elections Observer Missions In Grenada”.

There would also be those who vote for the winning party or for the Government to remain as is, but eventually hit with unfulfilling promises, unexpected approaches, extraneous policies, and offensive behaviours and associations. This and other pertinent reasons account for the apathy and gloom about politics, and for some voters not going to cast votes on elections’ day but are poised for any outcome.

JK Roberts